iFLT15 about to start in St Paul, MN

IMG_3399Tomorrow, Tuesday the 14th of July – but for Europe it’s already today – iFLT15 will start. It will be hosted by Tartan High School in St Paul, Minnesota.

I already arrived Friday in order to acclimatize. I’m staying with a very nice French-American family in St Paul, more than an hour by bike from the school. (By bike: I bought a Bike Friday folding bike with 24 gears with a suitcase and a small trailer – I really miss cycling when I don’t have a bike!)

Registration will start at 8 o’clock and the conference will start with a plenary session from 8.30 till 11.30: Discovering the Power of TCI.


iFLT14 Denver – The fourth and last day – Friday the 18th Of July

Root Down desertAlready the last day?! And I even slept 40 minutes longer: 6.40! This week went so fast! Yesterday evening Contee and his wife Maggie invited me to go to Root Down, a great restaurant and it had a.o. glutenfree and vegan/vegetarian dishes. We didn’t make a reservation and we were lucky we were in time, because it was really crowded and we had a table and fortunately we did not have to wait on the list. We had delicious food! And the desert, wow……………! (Samm is the pastry chef: we’ll certainly hear more from her in the near future I expect!). Here you can take a Root Down virtual tour.

Bryce Hedstrom - Classroom managementThis morning I first went to Bryce Hedstrom, classroom management. I can listen for hours to Bryce. He has so many good ideas and has to tell so much about his personal classroom experiences. Some tips from Bryce about classroom management:

  • Start kind and then keep iron discipline – but stay kind!
  • Start teaching your language and then do the routines as they come up.
  • Model positive behavior

From the classroom managment hand-out at Bryce’s site:
“There is no instruction without discipline. When students experience the spontaneity of a TPRS class, they can interpret that joy as a wisecrack free-for-all. We want to keep the affective filter low, but we also need to keep students focused and in the TL. To pull off this hat trick we may need some new ideas. We need effective classroom management strategies and techniques that apply to C.I.-based language classes.”

At the end of the first lesson Bryce tells the students they are going to do a game or have free  time on Friday, if they are always on time, if everybody is quiet and is collaborating. The class gets 3 points for it and one student’s job to note down the PAT points (Prefered Activity Time).

Bryce shows funny video’s when the students are entering, so students have to be in time to see them. Bryce has all kinds of jobs for his students. It’s one student’s job to switch it off.

Bryce has a project – and he already starts in lesson one, also at  the lowest level : la persona especial. Bryce interviews students in the class in the target language and every time they talked about 5 students, they have a quiz – one a week. It’s easy for the students to know, because it’s compelling and this way they get to know each other.

The students grade each other, two students have to put them in alphabetical order.

The big idea, both with acceptance; all of us are working together, we’re a community. We all have roles in the class.

Bryce takes care to make contact with all of the students, talks to those who are in time.

Report is important to Bryce, but he is not so much interested in their favorite actor, singer, sportperson but more in what do they like to do: real things about real people. Bryce’s favorite question is: what are you not good at yet? It has so many layers.

He advices  to read: Mindset, Carol Dweck and The talent code by Daniel Coyle

At the end of the lesson Bryce bows and says: “Gracias por aprender” and the class answers: “Gracias por enseñarlos señor”.

Mark MallaneyAfter Bryce’s classroom management workshop I wanted to observe in the learning labs, but I did not know which one to observe. When I was in Joe’s lesson, I heard another teacher yelling a lot, in the fire of a story and it did not really attract me to go there, but Mark Dellaney happened to be  this teacher and someone told me to go there, so I didn’t not want to follow my prejudice and I went to observe his lesson and I really loved his Spanish 1 lesson to middle schoolers!

After the lesson we did the debriefing and Mark answered all the questions; here some of his answers.

Mark backward plans from a novel and that’s the vocabulary he will work on. He does pre-teaching per chapter –Mark knows very well where he wants to go to. He picks one thing/word and works on it all different ways.

Sign classroom Mark MallaneyWhen the students enter, Mark already gives them something like a pre-warming. This time he gave them a little paper with a color written on it in Spanish and they had to find the same color in Enlish (or the other way around, I forgot) and he had groups of two or three with the same color. Mark already took into account which students he did not want to sit next to each other – and be couples who would work together, so he took care to give them different colors. Mark projected the sentences from Isabela, read  the sentence and then he drew a colour and the group with that color had to show, to form this sentence in front of the class and Mark made pictures of each group – this activity is called “Snap shot”. Mark also had put sentences from the Isabele book on pieces of paper and he gave it to a group, the group had to form the sentence in front of the class and the rest of the class had to read the page and had to find the right sentence and when they found it, they had to raise their finger. The first one with the finger up read  the sentence and Mark checked with the small group and repeated the sentence. (read, read, read, rep, rep, rep)

Mark thinks his best props are people. A door: a kid, the golden gate, some kids etc. But he also has e.g. funny hat’s from UStoys, like the pizza hat. Mark only gets the actors up until everybody gets the story, once the story is established.

Mark’s students write a lot – he did not do that during iFLT, because that would be boring to observe, to see the students only writing; he all grades them. He has a rubric on ACTLF. It can be found on CIteachers.com (it requires membership).

And then iFLT was almost over…

Carol Gaab and Diana NoonanDiana Noonan & Ben SlavicWe had lunch and the closing session. Of course a lot of people were thanked by Diana Noonan and Carol Gaab and special thanks to Ben Slavic, because he “is retiring again”. A group of colleagues who worked with him together spoke some funny words, but Ben was not allowed to say anything, because “he talks too much”. He tried several times to get the word, but was severely spoken to he  did not get it. He obeyed.

And then Carrie Toth first did a rap, before starting her closing speech. Carrie is the 2013 Illinois foreign language teacher of the year and was named Central States Teacher of the Year 2014 in March. She will join the other four regional finalists at ACTFL 2014 in San Antonio in November where the 2015 ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year will be named. Carrie’s blog: Somewhere to share

Carrie Toth

Sorry for the dark photos – it was quiet dark in the conference room.

Carrie closing speech was entitled: Post workshop workout plan. Carrie compared us language teachers with Michael Phelps, an American swimmer and the most decorated Olympian of all time and Phelps also holds the all-time records for Olympic gold medals (18, double the second highest record holders). She said a few things are very important to Michael Phelps and to us language teachers as well:

  • Food – feed yourself
  • Reflection
  • Practice
  • Collaboration

Be yourself – don’t imitate someone else

Collaborate : find a buddie!

Everybody has his own team and everybody has his favorite player, We’re all part of team TPRS.

Anybody that cares for kids, can do this!


iFLT14 Denver – The third day – Thursday the 17th Of July

Joe DziedzicIt’s already Thursday! This morning I awoke again at 6 and could not sleep anymore. Daniel and Judy Dubois from France also have this… It must still be the jetlag. And I think because of that, I mixed things up and I went to observe in the learning lab in the first round, but it should have been in the second round… I went to Joe Dziedzic’s class, teaching a Spanish 2 class.  It was a calm group; as is Joe. The class was very supportive. It’s very nice to see all those different teaching styles.

After the break I went to the workshop of 7-months-pregnant Martina Bex. She has a blog: The comprehensible classroom. SheMartina Bex had a very interesting interactive workshop “PQA hooks”. Martina calls PQA (Personalized Questions and Answers): a teacher facilitated discussion with students about students.
– Purpose = relationships & repetitions
– Benefits: engagement & inspiration
– Challenges: engagement & execution

She used several primary school games and teamwork activities with personal questions, containing certain grammatical features in order to have the students work and communicate together in the target language.

When I was waiting in the hallway during lunchtime, suddenly Susan Gross came along! What a nice surprise! I heard she did a small lecture with the beginners and of course she said: Nothing motivates like success!

IMG_2596After lunch I went to  the engaging and highly inspiring workshop by Leslie Davison: 20% projects. I did not know at all what it was, but I found it an intriguing title and someone in the hallway said Leslie’s workshop was great, so I went for the adventure. The title happened to be inspired by the Google project to use 20% of the time for projects. “Google described its startup ideal of “20 percent time,” where any employee could take a day’s worth of time out of the normal work week and come up with a cool project to work on”. Leslie had us go to the site of the Kiva project – empower people around the world with a $25 loan – and we had to find someone we wanted to loan $25 to. We had 6 (or 10?) minutes to make a presentation and put it on Google presentations and then convince the group in one minute (!) why the 25 dollars should go to our project. We had about 5 presentations and then we had to vote for the the one we wanted to give the money to and then Leslie really made the loan of the 25 dollar with the money on her Kiva-account. What a wonderful idea!!

Leslie also had a project: What’s your passion?
I. investigate your passion (or: learn more about…)
II. improve in your target language
III. connect with someone in the target language
IV. save the world in the process

• 2 months (up to four)
• provide the language they will need
• teacher is the guide in terms of ideas
• out of class work

– journal or blog entries
– their presentation
– student reflections/teacher reflections

The last workshop I went to was Karen Rowan’s Personalization workshop part Karen Rowan2. Yesterday I went to part 1. This one was more about personalizing and making it into a story. Karen was coaching someone and then another person had to take over the coaching and she would coach the coach.